Reopening Schools Edition

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S1: The following podcast contains explicit language.

S2: Welcome to Mom and dad are fighting Slate’s parenting podcast for Thursday, October 22nd, the Reopening Schools Edition. I’m Dan Kois. I’m a writer at Slate Dotcom. I’m the author of the book How to Be a Family. And I’m the dad of Lyra, who’s 15, and Harper, who’s 13. We live in Arlington, Virginia.

S3: Hi, I’m Julie Lemieux, a writer for the Care and Feeding Parenting column, also Slate. The kids are asleep. And Mom Samila, who is seven going on thirty seven. We live in Los Angeles, California. I’m Elizabeth New Camp. I write the Home School and Family Travel Blog Dutch that screw’s I’m the mom to three, little Henry eight, Oliver six and Teddy, he’s four. And I’m located in Navarre, Florida.

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S2: We’ve already had one show this week, Jamila’s. Incredible. Ask a Teacher Spectacular where we revisited the four teachers that we talked to back in July. You’ll find it in your feeds. It published on Tuesday. But we are very excited to have this show, another school conversation, this time with Joseph Allen from Harvard School of Public Health, about why he thinks opening schools slowly is failing students and what we should do to speed things up. We’re going have some good questions for him. We’re also going to be tackling a wild listener question about body shaming, frenemies and a neighborhood gone feral. As always, we have triumphs and fails. We have recommendations. Let’s starts today, as we always do with triumphs and fails. Jamila, what do you have?

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S4: I’ve got a two for one, and they took place in the last thirty minutes, so I can’t let this good when they’re fresh. Yeah. Hot out of the oven. I can’t even remember what the feel I had prepared was. So that’s just have to show you how frequently I’m racking them up. This week Mercury is in retrograde you guys. So be gentle with yourselves. It’s happening for a reason. Don’t let them tell you otherwise. So I was trying to get a quick a quick drink before we started the show.

S5: I had taken a walk, you know, I got back inside, was a little warm. And so I have some tea concentrate for lattes. Seem too progressive to say chai. And I certainly would not be quite saying chai tea like we did in the nineties. I, I know better now. I’m so sorry. It’s really delicious and thank you. So we have like the concentrate or whatever. Right. And so I’m the only person in the house who’s going to drink that so I can drink directly from the like. But there’s no gas, you know, it’s just me. So adult beverages, my mouth goes straight to the bottle and if Miami gets a call from me, from sitting behind them, like that’s what she gets. Right. And so I forgot that was a concentrate, which is the most disgusting thing. Nothing. And I cannot mainly concentrate the taste good. Not Christ. So I took a nice, good swig, so I’m going to have a lot of energy soon. So that happened. And then so since I had taken a walk I had on a sweatshirt because the temperatures have fallen a little bit. You know, another beautiful day in California. For those of you who are not fortunate enough to live here. I’m so sorry I came in and as I often do when I am not here, I took my sweatshirt off. You know, I had on a good bra, you know, the light could pass for a sports bra. And I live alone. There’s no company like the world is upside down. Like everybody’s got some stuff that they do now that maybe they didn’t do before quarantine in my house. Like, I don’t have to wear a shirt around now so I can just wear a bra or whatever. We’re going to get curtains soon. And I was about to sit down because I’m just I’m in my natural habitat, like I took my walk. I’ve got a cup of tea now and I sit down at the computer and do some work. And I almost just showed up to the show, like in a bra. Like I almost had a Jeffrey Toobin moment.

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S6: I was going to say, like, I guess since black women only earn, what, seventy two cents on the dollar, I could only do like seventy two percent or two percent of the Tubin moment.

S5: Yes, it’s a good moment, but it almost happened. So here we are.

S1: Hey, our pledge to you listeners there will never be zoomed back on. Mom and dad are fighting. That’s a great almost fail and a great actual fail. I got here to tell you that you are going to remember the taste of that tea concentrate for the rest of your life. It’s still here. When I was fourteen, I was at my high school girlfriend’s house and I opened up her fridge and took out a bottle of lemonade and poured myself a glass of it and took a huge swing.

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S6: And it turned out that it was brine for pickling. And I can still remember exactly what it tasted like. Oh, right now. Oh, that’s terrible job. I did not endear myself to her mother by spitting at all over her kitchen floor. Oh, all right, Elizabeth, try and fail.

S7: Oh, so I have a fail, but it’s like a personal failing, which I completely forgot that I am like a mother of three little children. So we had a weekend full of activity. Like all the normal stuff we do, we are planting the garden. All this I had run the children ragged. And one of the things that we like to do is do a reading happy hour. We’re like, I get a drink. The kids make like whatever weird concoction they want. And then I read out loud, but I had just like had enough. I said, like, let’s all go sit outside. We’re going to have reading Happy Hour, but. Have to bring your own books, and there was like massive, nobody wanted to do that, but I offered these like lemon squares that Jeff had baked and eventually got everybody out there and settled in having my drink, reading my book. Everybody is quiet for the duration that it takes them to eat the plate of lemon squares. And then, like all, I think I even snapped like an Instagram photo of me reading and Henry reading. And I was like, Oh, this is perfect. Like I’ve got everybody reading what a great mom am I? And then like, next thing I know, Teddy has a stick and he’s like running around whacking everything. And books are like flying in the plate that the lemon was on. And I was just like, oh yeah, this is not we’re not there yet. Look like I have one child that was agreed. But I had just completely in my mind, put myself in this in this different, different family with different children. But you know what? You put yourself in my family.

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S4: You’ve literally just saved my life. I was talking to my mom about this yesterday, like I was a gracious reader. And I am, as you know, from the moment I could read, like there are often times I would happily forego play for reading, you know, and I was an only child in the household, you know, my mom, you know, single mom. So, like, it also gave her an opportunity. She’s a big reader. So we did that was something we did together a lot that we both read. And it also gave her an opportunity to cook and clean and do stuff. Right. And yeah, it’s not like she loves to be tethered to a screen and she likes reading. She likes she loves having her audio books at night. She loves being read to and she likes reading out loud for an audience. But like when I want her to just do quiet reading because I’m like, yeah, you can read novels now and she’s a great reader. You know, this is like to be in the chair curled up with the baby sitters club. Like, you should be excited to do that. And like, we haven’t quite gotten there yet the way I want her to. And her stepmother’s a huge reader. So it’s like we’re trying, you know, like without hitting her over the head with it or, you know, we don’t want to make it something she loves. You know, we also don’t turn her off. So it’s like a delicate balance between like we’re trying to guide you into falling in love with this as opposed to mandating that you do it out of necessity. And so because my daughter thinks she’s a 37 year old woman, like the idea of a reading happy hour, that’s like you literally like my brain.

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S8: Yeah, I wrote it down. Now I feel like your success. Yes. I think this is a pill. Yeah. No, I mean, we let them make their own drinks. It’s really fine. Oh, my God. I get like a treat.

S6: And definitely reading the lesson of Elizabeth’s story is that will work for everyone. Yes.

S8: Yeah, yeah.

S1: Well Henry did say reading I should give him credit like he threw out the chaos the reader could read like Nyima is will be really invested in, like the social ritual drink aspect of it. It probably will work.

S7: Well, I think the chances are seven for Teddy, not like once the drink the sugar was consumed, he was like, where’s the closest that I could even like Organa?

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S4: And it’s low tech so I could actually do it. Like I could organize a couple of other moms and their girls to. Yeah. That are their children. You know, I shouldn’t say just other parents and children that would be interested in this. You know, like, um, we do a little hi, we’ve got our stuff and then we do our reading program and then maybe, you know, maybe they’re reading the same thing or I like they’re sharing what they read or just.

S7: Yeah, I mean, we I think any like hook we do a lot of like poetry, tea time, things like that. But yeah. I mean happy hour reading is one of my favorite because like a drink it feels like an acceptable reason to start having an evening drink before Jeff gets home.

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S4: I love this. I love. Oh my God.

S8: This is so great. Turning fifty turning fails to tryouts. The mom and dad are fighting way.

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S4: If you were to stay at home mom to live in my head, you would turn this into a multi-million dollar franchise very quickly. So it was your idea. I’m not going to take it.

S8: I’m just saying a lot of other people talk and now the idea is just out there for anyone to see.

S6: Yeah, exactly. Go get a copy tonight.

S9: I have a triumph. A part of what makes it a triumph is that I would have viewed it as a fail a couple of years ago. You know, Lyra is a very smart kid.

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S2: She’s always done very well in school for many years. I had a lot invested in her, doing well in school emotionally, like because that was my thing when I was a kid. I was I was a nerd and it was important to me to get good grades. And I really related to that part of Lyra. And I don’t know that I put a lot of pressure on her, but I definitely stressed, like if she did worse in a class that I thought she probably could have done, I would definitely be like, I bet you could do better than that if you really work to really put forth the effort. And there have been a lot of things over the last few years that have, you know, made it clear that putting academic pressure on her is not actually helpful or useful to her, and it stresses her out and makes her feel bad. And so over the last few years, I’ve really tried to recalibrate the way I think about her school achievement. And and how much emotional weight and even practical weight I put on the grades that she gets, how much does it really matter to me to have a kid who who replicates the kind of academic achievement that her mom had or that I had and in high school, all this is sort of a long way of leading up to this decision that Laura had to make over the last couple of weeks. She when she signed up for classes this year, this is way back, you know, in the spring when we had no idea what the fall was going to look like, she signed up for an additional her various other classes. She signed up for advanced math. Larry does not love math particularly, but she did well. And at last year, she got an A and she found that she didn’t find it that hard. She said she wanted to give herself a challenge and try advanced math. And she also said she thought it would be a good thing to do for colleges or whatever to have this thing on her transcripts. You know, I think I’ve talked about already the the stuff that I have been learning this year to help her with advanced Algebra two, because it’s been a real bear. It’s been very, very hard for her. It’s, you know, from the outside looking in. It definitely appears to be a really advanced math class. They’re covering tons of material every day. And she has been struggling a lot and part, I think, because just the material is hard and there’s a ton of it, in part because it’s not in person. So a lot of the ways that she processes difficult material aren’t there for her. She’s having a lot more trouble like learning what is being taught in class each day than she used to when she was actually in class and person. It’s just a lot harder for her to process it on a screen and for her to retain that information. And so it’s just been a real like a real bear. It’s been going through class and then seeing the homework and panicking because you don’t know what to do. And then her and I working together to figure it out and her doing two or three conferences with her math teacher each week to try and catch up. And the grades, she’s done fine, like she’s gotten, I think, BS and A’s on the tests and quizzes, but that’s after a ton of stress and anxiety about it.

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S10: So she had to decide whether she wanted to stay in this class. And, you know, sort of the informal deadline for when you would have to Baghat was coming up. If she was going to drop back into just the regular Algebra two, she was going to have to make that decision soon. And she was really resisting it for for a while because she just really felt like this was the thing she had set herself up to succeed, that she didn’t want to feel like she failed at it. She really thought it was important. And I you know, after years of doing her academics through my slightly twisted adult lens, had basically made a complete 180 and felt like the obvious thing that she should do is drop this class. It’s not giving her any pleasure. It’s only giving her stress. I’m sure she could do well at it if she worked like a dog for the entire year. But that doesn’t seem funny at all. And it didn’t seem like that important to me for her to take advanced math. It didn’t seem like it mattered in the long run for her to make herself miserable for this thing. But so my triumph is that I I’m really proud of how I sort of gently helped her make this decision on her own without putting the opposite kind of pressure on her. Then the kind of pressure I used to put on her without talking to her a lot about how she just needed to get out of this, giving her a chance to think about it and keep trying and explore it. And she. Did make her way finally today to this decision that she thinks would be better for her to drop this class and go into the regular Algebra two, and I’m really proud of her for making that decision. And I’m proud of me for helping her get there without pushing it, which I think would have probably just made her more determined to do this thing they don’t think is making her happy. And she told me today that she’s not doing the class. And I said, I think that that is a great decision for you. I think it’ll be a lot happier and honest to God. I don’t there’s no college that is going to make a decision on whether or not to admit you based on whether you took advanced math your sophomore year like that. That is not the thing that colleges are going to be looking for from you. It’s not it doesn’t matter on anyone’s transcript. I don’t think it particularly matters on yours. I’m very happy that starting tomorrow she will be in a class that I think she will be much more chill and will be much more reasonable burden on her time and energy and her psychic energy and her studying energy. And I’m happy with the way it turned out. And I’m happy to know that I’m a parent who could help get her there without any of the pitfalls that I might have fallen into five years ago or even maybe six months ago.

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S7: You raised a little adult and she’s making decisions on her own. I think that’s great.

S4: How easy for me to say when it was the right decision that I agreed, especially I think in particular the acknowledgment this is a change in behavior, you know, and in progress as opposed to just like, oh, I feel so great, you know, like I encourage her to make her own decision. And she made the right decision. You know, it’s like, yeah, I would not have been able to do this in the past. Right. That’s a big deal to feel like your parents trust you.

S11: I think it’s important to learn to make decisions where you say like this isn’t working so often. The choices we help our kids make are like to keep doing things that are hard, which is important. But it’s also important to know when to just say, like, enough is enough. The big gains here are not worth like the stress. And I don’t think we do a good job, like always teaching and encouraging our kids to make those kind of choices.

S2: So certainly around here in Arlington, that is not the default choice. And that that has had a lot to do with the way I’ve sort of reframed my thinking about school, particularly seeing the kind of weight and burden that parents around you are putting on kids and stuff like this. How miserable it seems to make them all the time. All right. Thank you for your affirmation of my triumph.

S1: I’m always happy to triumph on mom and dad are fighting. OK, let’s talk some business. Tune in tonight, Thursday, October 22nd to Jamila’s Slate Live Show. The Kids Are Asleep. She’ll be joined by Morgan Fletcher and Tony Wilson for a conversation on the National Agenda for Black Girls Initiative. Tune in at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Pacific. We’ll have links to Slate’s YouTube and Facebook pages on our show notes here. Check out Slate Dotcom live. Hey, Slate’s got a ton of amazing parenting content right now, and Slate’s parenting newsletter has the best place to be notified about everything we publish and podcast, including Mom, Dad are fighting. The kids are asleep. Ask a teacher care and feeding and much, much more. Plus, you know what? It’s just an email for me where I unload about what’s going on that day. So sign up, slate, dotcom slash parenting email. Give it a try. Hey, if you want even more parenting advice, you can join the Slate parenting group on Facebook. It’s a super active group full of useful suggestions and me shutting down all the jerks. So search for sweet parenting on Facebook dotcom. All right, we’re back.

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S12: So starting in July, I noticed that opinions on in-person school among people I knew or followed on social media were split pretty evenly along partisan lines. It was obviously fueled by Donald Trump and Betsy Davos, making it a political issue, among other things. For the most part of you were a Republican. You wanted schools open. If you were a Democrat, you wanted schools closed. And for many students in their actual lives, this divide was mirrored in policy and blue districts. A lot of schools went to remote learning and red districts. A lot of kids went back to school. But now we’re entering month three of this fucked up school year. And I’ve started seeing liberal friends and acquaintances start to wonder what was remote schooling really the right thing to do? Should we be pushing harder for kids to return? I’m sort of one of them. I’m a lot more open to the idea of reopening school than I ever thought I would be at this point. And so I really wanted to talk this out. So I’m really glad to welcome Dr. Joseph Allen from Harvard School of Public Health. Hey, Joe, thanks for joining us.

S13: Hey, thanks for joining me. Sorry. Perfect. All right. Sorry about that. That’s what happens when you have three kids at home doing school. So that’s perfect.

S14: It would not be there. So if there weren’t.

S13: Yeah, I think I need a on air sign outside the door. Although with kids, I don’t think that matters. It doesn’t matter.

S9: So obviously having kids at home is a pain for all we parents who are trying to do our various jobs.

S12: But you’ve been arguing in some interviews and in an op ed in The Washington Post that kids learning at home is just a real failure on multiple policy levels for the kids.

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S1: I guess my first question to you is, do you think at the root level we should all be pushing for schools to reopen much more quickly? Should that be our priority?

S13: Yeah, there’s absolutely no question kids out of school is a national emergency. I’ve been writing since June that we have to make this a priority and get kids back. And I’m a progressive. I’m a liberal, but I follow the science here. I’m a scientist first and foremost. And we wrote in a report in late June outlining risk reduction strategies that schools could take to keep both kids and adults safe.

S15: And I have to say that the conversation at that time was more cordial. And it really wasn’t until exactly like you said, it wasn’t until Trump, a divorce really started to make this political blurting out nonsense on Twitter, open the schools in all caps, exclamation points that the turn was palpable all of a sudden became political. I absolutely agree. And it became a red state, blue state thing where we stopped following the science and all of a sudden immediately the conversation got a lot harder. It got harder to push the science through because it became a political polarized debate.

S12: You know, one thing that I really crave on this and that I feel like I don’t have is some kind of scientific consensus on sort of either side of this question. You know, what does the science say about what the risks are, the health risks for opening schools for students and teachers? What is science saying about what the risks are and that the damage is that remote schooling is doing to kids who can’t return to school buildings? You know, as someone who studies this, how would you summarize what we know so far?

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S15: Interesting you said that I tend to see more agreement from the scientific community across the different disciplines, although nothing is ever 100 percent in agreement. But here’s how I think about it. First and foremost, when we have kids out of school, we are creating different types of risk, devastating risk in terms of virtual dropouts or I am in Boston. Ten thousand high school students disappeared in May. In the spring, only half of the elementary school kids in Philadelphia were signing in each day. We’re still seeing that. So we have virtual dropouts. We’re losing people in the system to kids are not learning the same. They’re less social. They’re less physically active. UNICEF reports that they’re more likely to suffer from abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence. So as a society, it should be our absolute priority to get kids back in school because of these known and important risk factors and what have we prioritize. But we prioritized opening different parts of the economy like casinos and bars and restaurants. I mean, that’s important. The economic crisis is a public health crisis, but schools have fallen below this priority of reopening. It doesn’t make sense to me knowing the known risk factors. So that’s one. The other one is can we keep kids and adults safe in school? And the answer is yes. And here’s how we know. And this is what underpins our 60 page report on risk reduction strategies. First, look at what’s happening in hospitals where we’ve driven down risk to health care workers since the early days by just doing a couple of things. It’s universal, masking its hand, washing its healthy building control strategies like ventilation and filtration, and they can’t do physical distancing in a hospital and it’s a high risk environment. So we know some of the basics. These non pharmaceutical interventions, these basics can work when it comes to kids. We get a benefit with this virus. That is one of the only ways this virus has spared us. So through some quirk and we think we understand why mechanistically now. But kids are less likely to get this virus than adults that have. If they do get it, they are much less likely to die. In fact, some of the largest prevalence studies have looked at this and have it at three and one hundred thousand. So that’s 10 to the minus five risk that we think about risk. So one in one hundred thousand roughly, and they’re less likely to transmit, and particularly the younger kids are less likely to transmit this. So we know if these if it’s not schools as usual, you have these controls in place, kids wearing masks, all these non pharmaceutical interventions in place. Ventilation is looked at, higher filtration. We can keep both kids and adults safe. And in that larger context of risk, recognizing the cost of not getting them back are truly devastating.

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S11: The scientific case for opening definitely seems to be there. And you have elaborated on that now and also in your writing. But you also talk about the ways to make schools safe for kids, which is things like masks and increased ventilation. But then you also address how many schools say they can’t do these things. And so I guess I’m struck with this idea of like, how do we get people to do the things and move forward so that we can send the kids back? Right. It’s great that the science is there and says if we send them back under these conditions, they’re going to be safe. But we can’t seem to get people to those conditions.

S13: Yeah, that’s right. I think a lot of people squandered the summer. And I guess the big point, if we take a step back, is that there’s always something you can do. And I’ve been very careful not to make recommendations that are going to be million dollar or multimillion dollar fixes and it’s going to take five months to do. I’m talking about some of the basics here that nearly every school can do. The problem is what I’m seeing is mostly this closed mindset. We teach kids growth mindset, but with schools we tend to have a closed mindset where we say, well, we can’t do it. There’s always something you can do.

S15: These are simple steps opening up the window, using a portable air cleaner, bringing in a bit more outdoor air through your existing systems, replacing the filters, just making sure your systems working the way it should be and everyone in a mask. And so we’ve released guidance on this, recognize that for a lot of schools, it’s the first time they’re thinking about it. So we released a five step guide for how to assess ventilation. We went out into schools and show it how it was done. And then we translated that so other people can can copy this. We’ve built an online calculator to simplify decision making around how to purchase the right size portable air cleaner. So the tools are out there. They really are. And the science shows that if you do these things, even in places that have higher levels of community spread, schools don’t look like places that are driving the community spread or risk. This is across Europe. This is across our experience in the US in terms of camps and daycares, but also school openings in some places over the past two months. I do want to say one thing, though. The thing we need to be doing is driving down the total case numbers across the country. And I want to be clear. I’m not I am not on the side of, hey, let let’s let this virus rip and then get kids back in school. It’s a total failing of national leadership since February, actually since January that has persisted for these past 10 months. That has put us in this position of schools closed, hundreds of thousands of dead, many tens of millions infected. And we’re heading into the winter. You know, we’re talking about it. But I don’t hear many people driving the schools conversation first and foremost to say, are we really OK as a country with millions of kids not being in school right now? I can’t sleep since May thinking about this.

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S16: I appreciate and understand all of that. And I.

S14: That’s why I haven’t been able to sleep since I say about March or April is my conviction that if I were to get a bad case of covert, particularly then when there was the talk of we’re running out of ventilator’s, we don’t have enough beds and hospitals, I felt then and to some extent now, I feel very confident that I would be left to die. Right. I’m a black woman. I’m college trained, middle class, well-spoken, insured black woman.

S16: But the treatment that I receive in hospitals throughout my life, good hospitals, great hospitals has been subpar.

S14: And that is certainly among the many factors that have led to the high number of deaths amongst African-Americans and other people of color during this pandemic. Seventy five percent of the children and we know children are less likely to die of Cauvin, right? Seventy five percent of the children who have died have been black leathernecks or Native American and. As the parent of a black child, there is no scenario in which in this moment where I would feel comfortable living in a place, L.A. County, where the numbers are continuing to rise, where there has been this investment and reopening malls and restaurants and nail shops and things that represent comfort as opposed to a focus on what is the safe return to school look like, the idea of sending black children into a classroom right now, just like sending them into the worst possible circumstances.

S16: And you mentioned Philadelphia, and that is a place where you have a large low income communities, you have large communities of color. But I think the fact that 50 percent of those children had not signed on into the school is less reflective of how poorly that particular school district or the school district had responded to coronavirus.

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S14: But it speaks to the issues that existed in those schools prior to coronavirus right there, actively engaged that are enjoying learning, that are getting the things that they need. You know, 50 percent of them would not fail to show up to Israel because now I can get away with it or because I don’t have the same level of accountability that I had before.

S1: That’s the question. How do you convince people who just can’t face this?

S15: It’s great that you talked about what we’ve seen from this virus, which is it has exposed the deep problems, systemic problems in our country, including systemic racism. But black and brown communities are hardest hit, more likely to get this more likely to die if they get it. To your point about inequities in lower income schools or schools that are struggling, we are seeing the biggest impacts. And this is actually what concerns me the most here, is that if you think about what we’re now telling under-resourced schools to do, like Philadelphia, is to send kids home. There’s an assumption there that a caregiver is there to parents that there can help the technologies there. They have a working computer. They have Internet access. We know that’s not the case. There are millions of kids who don’t even have Internet access. And so we’re sending them home to this hybrid plan saying that’ll be safer, maybe from covid maybe. I’m not convinced that’s the case, but that’s the logic. They’ll be safer from covid. Meanwhile, we present this maybe year long gap in learning, which will, in my view, further widen. Racial disparities in learning that will persist for a lifetime, so these disparities in learning that were happening by keeping kids out of school are widening the racial gap is widening the gender gap as more of the burden from home learning and taking care of the home falls on women to women are dropping out of the workplace. And if I think about individual risk in the school, knowing, thinking about the controls that need to be in place, we can still control risk, even though. The data showing that a black child or brown child are more likely to die, the absolute likelihood of them dying is still very low compared to adults. It’s like percent level risk when you get to older people. Kids, fortunately, are less likely to get it. Now, it doesn’t mean we should accept that disparity and say, OK, that’s fine, it’s still a problem. It needs to be addressed. But in terms of individual risk, for example, your kid, the absolute risk is still low.

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S13: Now, you also raise an important point, and we called for this in an op ed in July that we think about the billions we’ve spent in stimulus. Where is the money earmarked for schools? Basic ventilation. We estimate it’s a billion dollars to put a portable air cleaner with a filter in every single classroom. That might sound like a lot of money, but it’s actually a drop in the bucket. The presidential campaigns have spent one point five billion dollars on advertising. We can’t find a billion dollars in this country to get kids back into school. That’s a simple plug and play solution for every ailment that the building has. All the ventilation doesn’t work. The windows are jammed or stuck.

S15: OK, we can put these air cleaners in that can help clean the air and they can be quite effective. Starting in March when we send kids home, we should have been having these discussions over how are we going to prioritize getting kids back into your point, Djamila. Right. Instead of these comfort luxury things? Not that they’re not important to us, but if that’s coming at the expense of kids getting back in school or if we’re providing stimulus, billions and billions of dollars in stimulus trillions and where had rated schools fall on that? How did we not see this? We knew kids would be going back in September and we’ve just let the building infrastructure just fall by the wayside. In terms of the conversation, I know if we put in these controls, we can keep kids safe and adults.

S16: We’ve begun hearing stories of teachers that are in classrooms that have reopened, who’ve died and teachers who died right before school was going to open and the school opened, basically. And the children are now dealing with this loss, perhaps in a way that they wouldn’t have they been going to school on. So particularly in low income communities, there’s so many low income factors that work in these schools. Right. And I understand the devastation of them not having access to that work. But those are the people that are so incredibly vulnerable to this virus, not just because they are more likely to get it and more likely to die of it, but because they you know, they don’t have that. I guess in the same way that one day we went from a debate over should people who work in fast food restaurants or grocery stores get fifteen dollars an hour? Right. Does that even make sense that somebody who is doing this, quote unquote, low skilled work command, a living wage to these are our heroes, right? The restaurant workers, the grocery store workers, they are essential workers because we have to eat. And if we reopen schools, we’re essentially identifying teachers and school staff as essential workers. But as you know, teachers are poorly compensated in many parts of the country. Other folks in the school are poorly compensated. And so now you’re being asked to put your life potentially on the line because it is the quote unquote, right thing to do for the children. We haven’t seen this work here yet, you know, so you understand why I think the skepticism that you’re receiving is not reflective of America’s disinterest in education, even though we certainly have failed our children in this regard time and time again.

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S14: And our leaders are failing our children. And we certainly know that the current administration has failed children in this country many, many times.

S16: But I don’t know that I don’t know that I could get on board with the idea of opening schools. I don’t know that I could find someone who makes thirty five thousand dollars a year up to then become an essential worker and for their life to be hanging in the balance based on whether children make up or not.

S15: Yeah, so really good comments there. Every loss of life through this virus is an absolute tragedy. These teachers kids have have gotten it and died. There’s no question that this can happen. Right. I would reject the idea that, or at least from my perspective, that I would never send anyone into any environment where there it’s gambling with their life. But I’ve done forensic investigations of sick buildings for decades. I’ve worked with buildings where people have died, hospitals where people have died, schools where people were sick and would never sign off on putting people into a place where I thought there was any gambling with their life by any means. I think one of the problems we see here is that we’re not always looking at the denominator or the success stories. Right. So when a teacher dies, it’s a tragedy. We have to understand why that happened and prevent it from happening again. The same time, we have many examples where places have stayed open and there are not cases. And this is through the heart of the outbreak. Even in New York City, so the YMCA stayed open, they had to stay open, right, to help low income community members who had and have a place to for their kids to go. And we had very few, if any, cases there. Same stories the entire summer with camps. And I’ve worked with community daycare centers through the spring. No cases there.

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S13: We have many examples of schools going back where, again, there are no cases where the controls are in place. The real challenge, and this is a failing of our federal government again, is that we’re not systematically collecting this data and learning from it. Where is the centralized CDC database that’s talking about every school, every case and kid and teacher, every control measure that’s in place or not? So we can say, wow, look at this pattern or hey, everything’s working when X, Y and Z are done and we have cases when this is not done. And that’s why everybody has to follow this plan. And it’s a total lack of coordination.

S15: It’s ad hoc. I feel bad for teachers, the teachers unions, the principals. Everyone’s looking around like what should we do looking for that guidance? And it’s all ad hoc approach. There are two things that have to happen. One is two conditions, precedent for opening. One, you have to drive down community spread. So if you’re in a place that is rip roaring with cases, that’s going to be a problem. You’re going to have cases that are introduced, has nothing to do with the school. It’s just a numbers game. And the second part of that is it can’t be schools as usual. You have to put in these controls. Anything you can do is better. Universal masking is a must. If you look at every single risk model that’s out there, my teams, other professors, engineering controls are great, like ventilation, filtration, but universal masking is what drives down risk.

S12: And this is sort of the essence of public health communication and the and the challenge that is faced. Right. It’s hard to present a case based on differences and long term risk and make an impact on people’s opinion when people naturally can’t stop thinking about individual life and death. You know, and it seems like it’s very hard to imagine schools becoming a priority unless there’s a major groundswell of parents support for this idea. And it’s hard to imagine there being a major groundswell of parents support if you can’t change the way people think about risk. And so is there some different way that public health experts should be framing these arguments to get past that like natural human impulse to view risk on an individual short term basis rather than on a collective long term basis?

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S15: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I was just talking my neighbor about this outside of population risk. What about my kid? And that’s what everyone it comes down to outside of the population.

S12: Arguments are not even my kid, but one teacher or one.

S13: Right, an adult. You know, I wrote a piece in The Washington Post with some colleagues talking about the metrics we collect and how that shapes our decision making. So this is led by Jessica Collins, an expert in evidence based policy in, for example, San Francisco has a dashboard. Right. And they’re tracking cases and building readiness and things like this. But they aren’t tracking things like how many kids are logging in each day, how many meals are missed, how many kids they lose track of entirely. So in some ways, the conversation shaped by the one metric we’re tracking that is a case in a school is is front page story. And I’m not saying it should it be, but we have to put where’s the denominator on that and what are the other metrics that are really quite critical to understand? I think for a lot of parents who may have means who say, well, look, as an individual risk basis, I get it, this is bad from population risk, but I have means, you know what? I’m going to keep my kid out. I have wi fi, Internet up computer. I can hire a tutor. My kids will be fine. I’m not going to send them back. This is where the disparities are increased. Look at what happened in San Francisco, where they just announced they’re keeping schools closed through the end of twenty twenty. Well, guess what? They’ve made dozens and dozens of exceptions for private schools. So I want to talk about a problem in disparities, black and brown, social disparities and economic disparities. That’s it right there. This is happening all over the country. And this is my deep, deep, deep concern that we’re furthering these inequities by the decisions to keep schools closed in light of what is the science has been really consistent.

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S16: Talking about what we know about community spread, school based spread and risk the political divide over whether coronavirus is something to be taken seriously at all. Is this a hoax? It is real. And so if children who have parents that are telling them that the math is oppressive or inappropriate or an infringement upon their rights in some way, or parents who believe that they are not going to necessarily keep their kid home from school just because they were around grandma, who has covered. My question is, where does the, I guess, refusal of Americans to take personal responsibility and say we have to adhere to the guidelines, that the experts have that board? And we have to protect ourselves and be vigilant, how does that factor into the feasibility of a widespread opening of school?

S13: Yeah, it’s a great comment and I appreciate it because I think it gets to the crux of this. And this is at this point because we’ve totally had a failed response here. We were told it would go away. We’re told it’s a hoax. We’re told their solutions are cures. Don’t wear a mask. We’re still arguing about mass as a political thing 10 months into this. And so you think about all the missed opportunities from the public health perspective that would have positioned us to not even be having this conversation. We’d have lower cases. We’d have a full on belief and support in science and scientists. And this is at the feet of Donald Trump. He’s been incompetent, in my opinion, from the beginning. And we’re paying for the price right now. And a lot of this we could say, well, look, if the country had responded right from the beginning with good messaging, good response testing, we would not even be here. And I’m shocked. We’re at this place where schools are still closed. And I think there is some part of this, too, on schools where it says, well, Trump is saying open up. That can’t be right. And so it forces people into their deeper, deeper corners. And I think as a scientist, what we’re trying to do and the people I work with just say, look, here’s objectively, here’s what the science is. If I didn’t think we could keep people safe in schools, there’s no way I would say this. Of course, if I didn’t think it was different risk for kids and adults in schools, I’d have a totally different opinion. But from my view, an objective read of the sciences, schools should have been open earlier, especially when it was nicer weather in parts of the country.

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S15: We’re now heading into the winter and we should be prioritizing this over other aspects of the economy.

S13: And because we haven’t because we’re not, we are going to pay a big price for this in terms of the impacts on kids over the next couple of months and over the many years. We know what happens when kids fall behind through schooling and this persists into adulthood and earnings. I really think the call should be to to end this nonsense on the herd immunity approach from these current advisers in the White House and get this country on a serious track towards controlling the pandemic.

S15: And that’ll make all of these other subsequent decisions a lot easier about what to open and when to open. We just haven’t had that leadership.

S12: All right. Thanks so much for joining us. We really appreciate it. We’re going to link to the Harvard Gazette piece, plus that Washington Post op ed with you and your colleagues. And our show notes. This conversation has been a really interesting counterpoint to Jamila’s conversation with teachers, which we ran earlier this week. Part of that conversation that was so heartening was hearing from teachers that kids who are in school are wearing masks right down to kindergarten. There’s compliance. There’s probably much better than adult compliance at this point. That seems heartening as well. All right. So thanks so much, Joe. We really appreciate it.

S15: Yeah, thanks. I really enjoyed the conversation and the questions. I thought it was a nice back and forth, so thanks for having me on.

S1: All right. Moving on to our listener question for this episode. As always, it’s being read by the fantabulous Shasha Liotard.

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S17: Dear mom and dad, my nine year old son is friends with the two sisters who live next door. In fact, he says the younger one is his best friend. Several times over the past few months, the older sister has called my son Chubby, and it bothers him to be honest. He is chubby, but he’s a growing boy and his weight is not something I’m concerned about. I advised him that the next time she called him chubby to say that he didn’t like it and to please stop. However, she continued to do it. In addition, she has repeatedly blackmailed him, his words, sometime last year. I caught the two of them in his bedroom and they were only partially dressed. They were clearly curious about their bodies and were very upset when I found them worried that they were going to be in big trouble. I talked with her mother about what happened and we agreed that it seemed to be consensual. We talked to both of them about the importance of keeping their bodies private. Seems like fairly normal childhood stuff right now. Whenever the neighborhood kids are playing outside and she wants to play a game that my son doesn’t, she threatens to tell the other kids what they were doing. After several months of this happening, I told the girl’s mother, she suggested that her older daughter and my son stop playing together for a while, I agree that this is a good idea in theory. In practice, it has become much more complicated. Now, both girls, including his best friend, are not allowed to play with my son when he’s playing with the neighborhood kids and the sisters come outside, they tell him to leave because they’re not allowed to play with him. I have told him that he does not need to leave the group, but I can see how this is hard for him to navigate. It’s hard for me to know what to do. He says, Mom, I’m being punished because I didn’t want them body shaming me. I don’t get to play with anyone and they get to live their normal lives. How can I help him and me deal with the neighborhood frienemy? I would like to preserve our neighborly friendship with this family and moving is not an option.

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S7: Why? Why does your son want to be friends with these girls? These girls sound like terrible friends, terrible friends, parents. Step one should be identifying to him that these girls are not good friends. Seriously, though, I think that it is important that that he recognized that like when people treat you like this, these are not necessarily people that you need to maintain that close relationship with. And I know that that is like very traumatic as a child to have to deal with that. And I and I think there’s like some other things at play that are not right here as well. But I sort of wanted to focus on, like you’re in this neighborhood, there are clearly other children to play with because you talk about that, like when he goes out to play with the other kids, then he’s forced to leave. So I as the mom would try to initiate some situations in which I’m inviting some of those other children to get to know my child, because what your kid needs is some other connection to this group that’s playing, because I assume, like when you say you’re not you don’t want to move, you also kind of mean like, well, I don’t want to just go find a whole nother group, like I need my child to exist in this group that’s playing around our house, finding one of these other kids, getting your son like an ally, someone who can you do some kind of one on one. I don’t know what the current situation is, any of that, but building a relationship with one of these other kids or maybe multiple of these other kids so that when they go play, he has other people and he’s kind of like entry into this whole situation is not these girls that are not very kind to him. And I know it’s hard, especially if he felt like he had a relationship with the other girl, like the the sister that’s not bullying him. I think, you know, it becomes complicated. And sometimes in friendships, even when we choose that person, something happens that causes the friendship to fall apart and guiding him through that is OK. I also really feel like in terms of the playing with the other kids, it’s important that he not be forced to leave and he can do that just by standing up for himself. Like if they come into the situation is not that he is prohibited from playing with them. It’s more that they can’t be alone together. So like you’re your son has not done anything wrong here. So he should be able to say, I’m not leaving. I’m going to continue to play with these. And again, building a relationship with someone else or some other people in that group, I think will help him kind of be more tied to the group that’s playing and be able to say sort of like you can stay in play if you behave, but it’s not me that meet that needs to leave. I don’t know. It’s it’s so hard, but I sort of feel like he needs to stand up for himself and you need to find him some other friends.

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S18: I’m curious to know if the younger sister at any point defended him against her older sister. I have two older sisters who are two years apart, and I know that, you know, they’re dynamic and they’re significantly older than I am. So their relationship is quite different. But there are you know, there have been folks who were friends with both of them who at one point just ended up being friends with one. Never a situation where, you know, one of the sisters felt particularly aggrieved by somebody, you know, is kind of more in alignment with what you’re describing here. That may be one of them had done something wrong. Most folks won’t be friends, somebody who’s done something awful to their sibling. But if you’re selling is treating somebody poorly, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t want to be their friend anymore unless you’re on board with the treatment. So because you didn’t mention it, letter writer, I am, you know, inclined to believe that that’s not the case. And either the younger sister is being passive or just kind of looking the other way or, you know, maybe she is a part of the bullying. But I’d say that absent a story in which she has been an advocate for your son, that I agree with Elizabeth, the investment and maintaining a friendship with these girls might not be the wisest one. I think creating a situation in which you all can survive one another amicably. And I think that there needs to be more conversation between the adults here. I’d be curious to hear from this parents perspective as to why is the younger child being prohibited from playing with your son? I think it’s you who should be discouraging the play, you know, but the idea that she has been thrown in there, too, like, well, if Sasha can’t play, Malia can’t play. I think that’s kind of cruel and it kind of maybe speaks to this could be a through line in the family, you know, or maybe she, you know, the parent thought that they were making things easier for you. But I do think that there needs to be some serious conversation between the families. You know, in our communities, we have to create restorative justice processes right where there is an apology and affirmation of I’ve done something wrong and I acknowledge it and I’m not going to do that to you again going forward. And whether that ends in children walking and being friends or being people who can say hi and bye or be in the same game of soccer and not have a problem, you know, that depends on you guys, but it depends on your children. But I do think that you and this family haven’t really sort of things out yet on the on the ground up in.

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S9: Yeah, I’m very struck by this mention of restorative justice, which, you know, I think that some people might hear and think, oh, that’s just a buzz word. That doesn’t mean anything to me, or at least not to kids. But I think it’s actually pretty notable in the telling of this letter how little attention has been paid to the wrong that these kids did your child. And I would argue that that it was not a good idea for the solution to this problem, be that the older daughter and the son just stop playing together for a while. I think that could be an inevitable result of the conflict between these kids and the way that these kids are treating your kid. But it is unsurprising to me that the immediate result of that decision was just that your son got ostracized because there’s two of them and one of him. I think the better response to the situation and the response that it might be worth pursuing with this mom now, even if you in your head are like, I just don’t want to deal with this family anymore, if I can avoid it, is to go back and ask if that can be the solution. If instead of you just of you guys just issuing a blanket ban on your children hanging out together, which is impractical for a situation where there’s neighborhood kids playing in a big pack and leads inevitably to someone being ostracized, if instead you say, I’d like them to address this thing that your daughter did.

S2: And I and I think it would be valuable for everyone to talk through how this made them feel and for your daughter to to apologize and promise not to do it again, it seems like.

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S9: From this letter, you, letter writer, have a reasonably good relationship with this other mom, right? It’s important to you to preserve your friendship with this family. I think that suggests that there’s a way that you can come to her and tell her what has been the result of all of this, you know, semi adult level meddling in your kid’s social life and suggest that maybe, maybe you guys made the wrong choice and maybe there’s a better thing you could be doing. And I see this as someone who in general is very like, I don’t want parents getting involved in their kid’s social life. But this is a situation where the parents have already been involved and the parent involvement has made things measurably worse for one kid. And so I think it’s up to you guys to find a way to help try and remedy that a little bit. Also, moving is never not an option. You could always just move and burn your house down, which is another great way to deal with a situation this messy. But barring that, I agree that getting in touch with this mom and revisiting that initial decision, which I think is how this sort of spiraled out of control, is the way to go.

S18: It’s so unfortunate. And I let a writer, you know, I’m acknowledging this and hope that it is acknowledged in your response and how you move forward with your side, but that what very well may have been his first experience with revealing his body to another person or to another, you know, or to a girl or to appear, which will hopefully his you know, his first experience, I should be told, because you all are aware of it. And it doesn’t seem to have been a terribly traumatic one, hopefully, but that it has resulted in the loss of friendships and or it potentially may be connected to the loss of friendships. And it certainly may be connected to the body shaming. Right. Because I don’t know if this is in response to seeing him out of his clothes or if it’s just, you know, I noticed him in his clothes and he said, I mean, he you were curious to see him out. I mean, there’s just so much there, you know, because it’s like that’s what chubby body kids are grappling with. Right. Because you are attractive, right? You are your body is valuable and beautiful as anyone else is, and people are attracted to you and want to see it. Right. Like not saying, you know, this is the time to say, go shut your beautiful body. You know, my boy. But the message shouldn’t be that, like, if you share your body with people when the time is right for you to do it, when you are of the age in which that’s appropriate, that bad things will necessarily come as a result of that or that something is so wrong with your body that, you know, revealing it comes with consequences.

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S2: Yeah, that’s good advice. All right. Good luck, listener. Let us know how it goes. We’d really love to hear a follow up as to how that conversation with the opposite mother in that family goes and whether you do think these friendships are worth saving. I’m very curious about that. Listeners, if you want us to help you send in your question or your conundrum to mom and dad at Slate Dotcom or post it on our Facebook group, just search slate parenting on Facebook. All right. Let’s move on to recommendation’s. Elizabeth, what are you recommending today?

S11: I am recommending I’m doing some, like, handcrafts with your kids, specifically some embroidery. It’s something that my kids have really enjoyed. And it’s great for kind of keeping their hands occupied while you’re listening to something or just having something that they can pick up and work on. I specifically like the kids from a little shop called Oh So Beautiful. They have lovely little samplers that even the kids can do. Adults can also do them and they do have some cute holiday ones, but they also have like rainbows, all kinds of cute things. Henry just finished the section of clouds that we really like that teaches you all the different stitches. And it’s just a great little thing to keep them busy. It’s good for hand eye coordination, all that kind of stuff. If you have little ones. They also have kits that are wood and the holes are in the wood and you’re just like coming up through it. But this is great. We tend to make little things like this and then they’re fun to give out around the holidays too. And the kids can be like, oh, I really made this. So again, recommending embroidery kits and the ones we like are from this company called Oh So Beautiful.

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S1: Can you please spell the phonetically comp.

S7: Yeah. So beautiful. So it’s o h so stw beautiful belote if you out and they’ll be beautiful. It’s beautiful. Yes. It’s good. Good. I should said it for Halloween recommendation but it has nothing to do with that.

S4: Djamila, I am recommending Doll Whip, which is the thing that I only vaguely knew existed. I’ve been to Disney, Disneyworld, the Disneyland thing, but I think they may be having a Disney World. So anyway, I know they deserve that originates with Disneyland and is made of pineapple chunks like pineapple juice and some sort of like ice cream base. And in most places, including the Disney version, it’s vegan. It’s really, really good. And there’s a place here in L.A. that serves it called Whipped L.A. and it is relatively low in calories and fat compared to other frozen desserts. And it is amazing. And there are a ton of copycat recipes online. So if you want to try and make your own deal with Disney, they actually release like. The official version of the recipe so have at it, you can make it with almond milk, apparently you can make it was like milk if they still make filling up at all. I have nothing like nobody has fallen on hard and it’s like milk. As an aside, you can make it with cows milk. You can make it everywhere. But ice cream, pineapple, pineapple juice, super yummy.

S2: I was going to say a very cruel to recommend this thing that I have only been able to purchase at the Polynesian resort at Disney World. But if there are recipes online, I’ll I’ll allow it.

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S4: Yes. No, it’s not like it’s super easy to make.

S2: I am eager for you to make it and tell us just how super easy it actually was. All right. Here’s my recommendation. The other night, it was bedtime. We had just finished watching a show with Harper. She was stalling about getting ready for bed the way that she always does. She loved stalling. She’s like lying all over us being like, well, don’t you want to. I don’t have to go to bed.

S6: And then I had a genius idea, which was to just start kissing me and then scream and ran away yelling like, oh, why would you do that in front of me? So my recommendation for those times when you need your kids to stop stalling and get out of the room, just start making it totally works. Absolutely works. Gets them the fuck out of the room in five seconds flat. That is hilarious.

S19: That’s our show. One more time. If you’ve got a question, email us. If mom and dad at Slate Dotcom are posted to the Slate Parenting Facebook group, just search for Slate parenting on Facebook dot com. And hey, if you’ve not already done this, hit that subscribe button. If you subscribed, you would have already known about this week’s bonus episode, the Ask a Teacher Spectacular with Djamila. But it helps support the show and it makes sure that these episodes end up in your podcast player every week. So you are not at the mercy of whatever happens to fall across your social media feed subscribe. We’d love it if you did. Mom and Dad are fighting is produced by Rosemarie Bellson, who’s Mealamu and Elizabeth. I’m Dan Coats. Thanks for listening.

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S2: Hey, Slate. Plus listeners, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for members of Slate. Plus, you really help support everything that Slate Dotcom does. We’re really, really grateful for your support. So we had a fun live show last week. And during the show, apparently I mentioned that my birthday is December 27th. It seems as though I, I just drop crucial identifying info in the podcast without even thinking about it at all. So look for me to just like casually say, my Social Security number at some point, about half of the live show, we got a listener question that we were too late to answer then, but we thought might make a fun plus segment.

S17: Now, Hidetoshi Leonhard, dear mom and Dad, does Dan have any recommendations for how to celebrate birthdays for kids who were born near Christmas so that it doesn’t suck or sucks less asking for my baby, who was born on December twenty third listener.

S9: I am so glad you asked this question because it absolutely, positively sucks for kids to have birthdays right around Christmas. It blows. I hated it growing up. And so I definitely encourage parents to think about how to make birthdays special for kids who have birthdays around any big holiday season, kids with birthdays around Hanukkah or Thanksgiving or July Fourth or whatever. But Christmas, I might argue, is maybe the worst one because it’s so societally big and it’s inescapable and everywhere.

S4: And if your family celebrates it, it revolves around finding out the things that your family uses July 4th as an opportunity to go a little to show you a birthday.

S6: They were going to do it anyway. Spoiler alert. That’s true. Fair enough.

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S9: It’s a Molly Ringwald in Sixteen Candles situation. But yes, Christmas, I think, is the worst because it’s all about presents as far as kids are concerned. And birthdays are all about presents as far as kids are concerned. And so the number one piece of advice I would give is just to resist the temptation, as strong as it may be to just combine your festivities into one glorious celebration of everything that your family loves and believes in. Do not have a Christmas birthday thing. Do not give your kid a combination Christmas birthday gift. Even if your two gifts are meager and teensy. Make them separate so that your child, as he or she is growing up, has the sense that this particular thing was picked out for me, especially for this occasion, and is meaningful on this particular day. I think that is the main thing you can do to help your kid really feel like that day is not being eclipsed by the larger holiday whose penumbra might otherwise completely fill it up. What do you guys think, Kay?

S7: Challenge accepted. I made a whole list of ideas. OK, good. Designate a birthday area of the house and don’t have any Christmas decorations in that area and decorate it totally for their birthday. Decorate their door with streamers and balloons and. All kinds of crazy stuff take down all the decorations off your Christmas tree and cover it and nothing but birthday stuff, and for the day it’s the birthday tree. Do a scavenger hunt for all the birthday presents because you’re so close to Christmas. I would give them birthday presents and also let them pick a present from under the tree to open early, which nobody else gets to do because that’s the magic of a Christmas birthday. OK, I also think there is an option to celebrate like early or late for a party. You could also let them pick any twenty third of any month to hold their birthday party. So you still do the birthday celebration, but then you say for your party you can pick any month and we will do it, then that helps you avoid the problem of people being out of town.

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S9: Yeah. For the birthday.

S11: And it’s like fun because one year you could have a pool party and the next year you could have a like some kind of winter party. I don’t know. And you could have a fall go somewhere like the you get some like in don’t do fall by all the other ones. Yeah exactly. I also thought it’s as they get older like to really just ask them what they want. I think that’s always important. But I think as they’re like little and they don’t have any say over that, one of the advantages you have thinking about this now is you can establish something that is like the Christmas birthday rule, like opening a gift or doing something else special, having a special crown that you use if you are actually on Christmas, like maybe morning as Christmas. But afternoon is all birthday staffer. They have a special birthday breakfast, like something to make them special on that day that the other people in the family are necessarily getting, because that’s kind of what your birthday is about. So I think if you set it up now and you make sure that they feel really special, like, yeah, I mean, it is still like not the same as someone that has like the perfect schools in session and nothing’s really going on, you know, birthday. They get to celebrate at school and have a birthday, a weekend that is not uninterrupted. But I think you can still make it really special and fun and have it be something that your kid remembers is like we always did this thing to celebrate.

S9: Congratulations to Elizabeth. New camp. You are planning my birthday this year. I was delighted because fun fact. You never really get over it. Yeah. As a kid with the Christmas birthday and I definitely my mother in law, bless her, still make sure to give me a separate Christmas and birthday presents, because when she first met me, when I was like 23 or whatever she like, instantly identify that that was a thing that drove me crazy. And she is still so sweet. Me no presents for those two days. It’s very, very nice, but clearly it persists. Jarmila, I want to hear your advice. And then also I want to know astrologically what does this period have to look forward to for a December?

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S20: Oh, my goodness, I’ve got the answers. First, I just want to say, Elizabeth, my family takes Juneteenth very seriously, so I need you to plan my birthday as well. It’s on July 22nd.

S8: OK, so that’s why I think I’m getting started as well. That six week period will come up with some ideas for the six week window that I love all those ideas.

S20: First, I would say, what would Jesus do?

S8: What what do you do?

S20: Think about it. It’s his birthday. It’s literally his birthday. His birth that has been taken away for capitalism.

S21: Oh, my God. That I know his whole like ever since they made in America anyway.

S20: And this made me think and Dan, I don’t know if you’ve gotten into Schitt’s Creek or gotten this far yet. I hope you have. I was literally bawling last night watching Schitt’s Creek to tell you, like, how it’s taken me from that. Like, I don’t want to watch that girl’s name. So to I will fight for these people to like I’m in tears and invested. But the family, the parents intended to celebrate the graduation of the daughter and the birthday of the son, all in one fell swoop. And they bought them a cake that said, Happy day, Alexis. And every time I think of somebody having a combined Christmas birthday now, I will always think of happy day. And I would probably send them a happy day card, but I will send something.

S21: So my meager contribution to this, because I think Elizabeth really came up with every possible amazing idea.

S4: One, and this would be particularly helpful for families that my mother was this way, like she didn’t have a lot, but like she made Christmas Day, I had a tree full of presents because I didn’t have you know, I got a present from my father for Kwanzaa.

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S20: But like, I don’t have aunts and uncles that celebrate Christmas, really. So it was really Christmas with all her show, you know. And so there was a big tree. You would have thought this was, you know, a family of four. And pretty much all this stuff was for me. And, you know, part of the way she did that was buying things throughout the year. And so if the common you know, the combination of having to, you know, and that thing that you have to go out, you know, like Dan said, whether these are large presence or small presence or a combination of the two having to buy them both at once can certainly be challenging. I wouldn’t want to have to do both those things economically I want. Either so if you were to say, OK, I’m going to start buying birthday things in October or I’m going to, you know, I’m going to buy Christmas presents in July and buy birthday presents in December, you know, to make sure that I’m able to do what I like to do for my child, then that could be one way to make sure that you’re able to help support the celebration in terms of helping your child to feel happy. You can always choose another date on the calendar and observe the birthday, you know, like if it’s just too much to, like, have to deal with the combination of, you know, because it’s not just of course, the people want to give you combination presents. It’s I can’t you know, I can’t attend a child’s birthday party right now. You know, I’ve got too many family obligations or I’ve got too much stuff going on. So those, you know, very precious. Saturday, Sunday. When does that you have are gathering friends and neighbors and classmates are even more difficult to grasp during the holidays. So if if it’s just easier if you have a kid that maybe has some anxiety issues, you’ve got some anxiety issues, you can pack this thing up.

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S22: One year I was just I don’t know what was going on. I was an adult. I don’t know what was going on in my life. But I was just like, I can’t do a birthday right now.

S20: Maybe I was just really stressed out with work and like, everything was just all over the place. And so I was like, we’re going to celebrate my birthday in a month, you know? And I had a branch and we just, you know, people treated me like it was my birthday. It was great. So take another day.

S9: Harbour’s eleven 12th birthday party really work. She still fondly remembers. It is the last fun thing before the coronavirus.

S1: All right. All very good advice. But Jamila, a Capricorn, what should this child know about their future?

S14: I don’t know a ton about Capricorns because I know mostly about the science that I have dated and the signs.

S8: And you never dated the last Capricorn?

S21: I haven’t had many friends in my life. I have. I know about my parents and my child, my close friends, but I have a lot of Capricorns around. But as far as I know, they are pretty resourceful, pragmatic and. They have to be because their birthdays, Christmas, like you can’t be a dreamer. I know, but they’re big dreamers, but they’re like.

S4: Effort like, I guess that there is a balance like effort versus dreaming, like these are Efford first people, that’s all I can remember from the meager things I met, I’ve read.

S22: Hopefully I meet a Capricorn on Hensch in the next couple weeks and I can find out something. While this is still of youth interest to our listeners, my understanding is that they’re also super hot.

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S1: So I recommend meeting with everyone on hand. Yeah, that’s that come standard.

S22: I’m waiting for that app where you can date based on astrological sign, but like I needed to be a regular people app because the only thing like the problem with that is what if you all why haven’t you designed that?

S8: So let’s hear your million dollar idea.

S22: And I was like, if anyone is an app developer, call me because I have so many ideas and some of them will save humanity and also have the astrological dating one, but like make it appealing to people who don’t like wear clothes with like astrology prints on them like as normal people. No offense.

S2: And I think there’s a long and proud tradition on mom and dad are fighting of people coming up with ideas that eventually make them thousand pairs, like, of course, it’s America’s favorite family car game. So I recommend trying to leverage this mention in the paywall plus segment of its cast into an investment opportunity for some venture capitalist. Good luck and good luck listener, with your fabulous December. Twenty third baby. Congratulations and happy birthday to that baby. Coming up soon. Thanks for listening. Thank you, sleepless members for your patronage. We really appreciate it. Talk to you next week.